NHL Trade Speculation: 10 Places Roberto Luongo Could Land
After Vancouver Canucks starting goalie Roberto Luongo's stellar turnaround in December, helping lead his team to the top of the Western Conference standings, his name is no longer coming up as often in the trade rumors. Despite the lessening of his name being thrown in the mix, Luongo will undoubtedly remain trade bait for the Vancouver Canucks for several seasons to come until he eventually is traded or sticks with his contract and retires a Canuck.
There are lots of teams who could use Luongo's talents right about now and down the final stretch of the 2012 season, as we have just broken the halfway point of the year. Hypothetically, Luongo could go anywhere or nowhere, but if he were to be dealt, there are over 10 teams who could use his help.
The Carolina Hurricanes currently sit 29th in the NHL with a 3.33 GAA per game. That is an atrocious statistic considering the quality of their No. 1 goalie, Cam Ward. Ward, who is clearly having an off year, has allowed a league-leading 110 goals this season in just 36 games played.
Although injuries to players like Jeff Skinner have caused Carolina offensive woes, there is no reason why a stellar and future Team Canada Olympic hopeful goaltender should be playing so poorly. A goaltender in Roberto Luongo would be a great fix to the Hurricanes' problems in net, and the trust placed in him by the team would probably transfer into more offense and success. He would also be a great mentor for up-and-coming goaltender Mike Murphy for years to come.
Obviously, Luongo would come with a hefty price tag, but if the Hurricanes want success, they need to make the deal. And with their youth and depth, they could pull the deal off.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets use for Roberto Luongo would be more than a quick fix. That franchise is in shambles. Without a structured point to the team or style of play, the Blue Jackets are lost in the flurry of the NHL.
Blue Jackets starter Steve Mason has struggled since his impressive rookie season and has not put up a winning season since 2008-09.
The Blue Jackets could use Luongo's experience, but there is no way he can turn the team around on his own and without giving up top players and high draft picks, the Blue Jackets would definitely be on the lopsided end of this deal.
The Achilles heel of the Washington Capitals in the Alexander Ovechkin era has been playoff failures, much in part to inconsistent goaltending. The Capitals have put their trust in former All-Star Tomas Vokoun, but even he has been unable to cure their woes in goal.
With forwards like Alex Semin and draft picks available, a deal for Roberto Luongo is very feasible. It just comes down to the willingness of either GM to pull the trigger. At this point in time, Canucks GM Mike Gillis denies any truth that Luongo is on the trade block, but should Washington put the right deal together, it would be hard to turn down.
The Capitals need a goalie to allow their stars up front more time in the offensive zone without having to worry about momentary defensive lapses, as Luongo possesses the skill and ability to make the big save. Perhaps both Luongo and the Capitals can cure each other’s playoff woes together.
The Ottawa Senators are another NHL squad that can't seem to find a goalie to stick with. Over the past few seasons, the Sens have gone through a handful of goaltenders before eventually settling this season on Craig Anderson. Anderson has started 39 of the Sens' 44 games this season, and he's not doing too poorly despite a GAA over 3.00.
The issue with Anderson is his durability and stamina. The Sens do not know if Anderson can keep it up through a whole season after playing just 51 games a season ago. Luongo, on the other hand, has proven he can play an entire season throughout his entire career.
Luongo's big body in the Sens' net could be just what they need to get themselves into the playoffs.
This comes as both a surprise but also as an annual midseason issue for the Philadelphia Flyers. Ilya Bryzgalov—their big-ticket signing in the offseason—isn't panning out as well as the Flyers had hoped. Sure, they sit fourth in their conference, but if they had more quality, consistent goaltending from Bryz, they could be in first.
Of the 45 listed goaltenders on NHL.com, Bryzgalov is ranked 39th in GAA at 3.07 and 41st in save percentage at .891. This is not good enough for a team that wants to make the jump to a Cup-contending team.
The addition of Luongo would put a goalie with confidence in goal and a player who can capture the belief of the hometown fans to produce night in and night out. Although in Vancouver, the Luongo bandwagon gains and loses members every night, a fresh start in Philly could be perfect for Roberto.
Tampa Bay Lightning
It seems to have finally come, the deterioration of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson's youth. At 42 years of age, he is by far the oldest goalie in the league, and it finally appears that he is just that—an old goalie.
The Lightning sit dead last in goals against per game at 3.37 and this team—with such high expectations to go deep in the playoffs this year—is currently one of the bottom dwellers of the Eastern Conference.
In a perfect world, the Lightning would love to have Roberto Luongo, but his long-term deal and the Lightning’s lack of willingness to give anyone up would ultimately disallow the deal from occurring. However, a return to South Florida, where Luongo's wife and family currently live, would be a great destination for himself personally. Unfortunately, the Lightning, while possessing valuable assets, do not want to give up those assets for Luongo's performance in net.
Like many of the teams that could use Roberto Luongo's services, the Anaheim Ducks have a bona fide starting goalie in Jonas Hiller, who is not performing to expectations this season. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong in Anaheim this season, but some of the blame must be placed on Hiller's 3.14 GAA and .898 save percentage.
If Luongo is not the fix here, splitting time with Hiller or even mentoring the young Ducks goalie should help the psyche of the team in general.
We know from his days in Florida that Luongo and his family like warm-weather places and surely his wife would make the move to sunny SoCal if he were to land there.
New York Islanders
Another goalie carousel team in Long Island, with ticking time bomb Evgeni Nabokov agreeing to return to the team after refusing a deal earlier and going to the KHL to play, the Islanders are in need of a goalie who wants to be there. Who better than Roberto Luongo, their first-round draft pick from way back in 1997?
Luongo will finally be the piece to the puzzle the Islanders have been striving to find year in and year out since the horrendous Rick DiPietro signing. Nabokov's numbers are average this season, but you never know when he is going explode and just leave the team altogether.
A long-term goalie is what the Islanders need, and Luongo is their man. They aren't too far off from becoming a playoff contender and the added boost of Lu could just get them there.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils may sit in a playoff spot right now in the East, but at age 39, goalie Martin Brodeur is rapidly beginning to lose his ability. No doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer, Brodeur has had a tremendous career with the Devils and will undoubtedly have his number raised to the rafters one day. Unfortunately, it is what it is, and it is time to be realistic. This could be Brodeur's last couple of seasons, and who better to take the reins from him than gold medal-winning and Olympic teammate Roberto Luongo.
Luongo still has a lot of good years ahead of him, and he would be the ideal replacement in New Jersey for Brodeur. A very fair deal could be made and leave both Vancouver and New Jersey happy as well.
If you really think about it, this could be one of the most realistic places Luongo could land if he does ever indeed get dealt.
Vancouver Canucks: Home
In reality, it looks like Roberto Luongo is going to stay where he belongs—Vancouver. After a stellar December, Luongo has again cemented himself as the go-to guy in Vancouver. Cory Schneider will still be getting his fair share of games, but Lu is definitely the top goalie on the Canucks.
Many things could hinder a potential trade, including his gargantuan contract running through 2020, and Luongo has publicly stated he would like to stay in Vancouver. It could have been for the fans or it could just be true.
Luongo and the Canucks came within a game of hoisting the Stanley Cup a year ago, and without a doubt, Luongo would like to have redemption and win a Cup for Vancouver. Luongo was arguably one of the biggest reasons why the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season, and they need him if they want to return there this season. After this year may be a better time for a deal.
Give the guy one more shot before you stomp out the fire.
John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist.
Follow him on Twitter: @JohnBainSports